Television: Warner Bros.’ Content Machine

You’ve heard it a million times, “Content is King.” Sure, some people will argue, others will demote content to Queen status or note the importance of other elements, but at the end of the day it is all semantics. I think everyone realizes the importance of content, forget the ‘rankings.’

The importance of content was highlighted in a piece that ran in The Wall St. Journal on Friday.  Called Hollywood’s TV Factory,” the piece lays out how the studio most famous for movies like Casablanca, Rebel without a Cause and more recent hits like Million Dollar Baby has a more pedestrian profit center: cranking out hit television shows. In fact, Warner Bros. completely dominates the small screen. Take a look at this chart laying out the number of TV shows in production at the Big Six studios:


More than CBS and ABC combined

How did Warner Bros. get such a commanding position? They invested the windfall from producing Friends (which has generated roughly $4 billion) into exclusive deals with some of the biggest producers around. People like Chuck (Two and a Half Men, Big Band Theory) Lorre, Jerry Bruckheimer and J.J. Abrams. They’ve got juggernaut daytime programs like The Ellen Degeneres Show as well.

But here’s the real question for Warner Bros. – how will they be able to use this position of dominance as we move to a more socially-driven TV experience?  They produce shows like The Vampire Diaries which is one of the most popular Social TV programs currently on air. I’d be interested to know to what degree Warner Bros. is looking into Social TV as a means to more deeply engage viewers of current shows as well as a way to drive DVD sales and merchandise of their extensive content catalog. Warner Bros. is brilliantly positioned to take advantage of both Social TV and Content Marketing, two of the new drivers for the modern entertainment company.

For more on the WSJ piece, check out this video: